“Come on. Have another,” I encouraged my house guest. It was as if someone had turned the clock back, and we were pledges in a fraternity.
It was a year and a half after my family and I had moved into our new home. The transition from city to suburban living was challenging. My wife and I missed life in New York City. Though my wife and I were rarely able to enjoy the happenings around the city as we were too busy looking after our young children, we missed the business, the culture, and the nightlife. But we needed a yard, a garage and good schools, so the suburbs were where my young family and I belonged.
I thought meeting people in the suburbs would be easy. You have a 5-year-old? Well, I also have a 5-year-old. Let’s have a barbeque in the backyard.
No, it wasn’t quite that simple.
This luncheon and this family was different. My wife and I genuinely enjoyed their company and they clearly felt the same. We laughed at the same jokes.
“Oh sure, what the heck. I’ll have another,” said the wife. By this point, it was adults only at the table. Our two boys, who were ages 5 and 2, at the time had headed down to the playroom ages ago – the greatest thing the suburbs had to offer in my humble opinion. Our guests’ four children were also scattered about.
With everyone’s shot glasses full, we were ready to toast.
I raised my glass and said, “To good company and…” There was a knock at the door.
“Who could that be?” my wife said as she went to answer. Our toast would have to wait.
I only heard were snippets of the conversation. “He what …Oh my … thank you. No, we were just sitting around. You want to come in?”
“Who is it?” I bellowed.
“It’s our son.” (The 2-year-old.)
In walks our neighbor.
Completely baffled, I said, “What are you talking about? He was in the playroom.”
“Well, apparently he got out, and walked down the street. Who knows where he was headed? My husband looked out the window and said, ‘Hey isn’t that the Bernstein boy.’ Anyway, here he is.”
My wife and I glanced at each other, feeling a mixture of shock, gratitude, and embarrassment. We managed to say thank you in between shakes of the head and mutterings.
How must it look to others? Here we are sitting around and having drinks on a Saturday afternoon while our two-year old is wandering the streets.
Ok, so we were out of the running for parents of the year. And hopefully not on the short list for child services.
Then we all laughed and shared stories about times we lost our children. By the way, we did have that drink.
Maybe we did belong in the suburbs.